I am a huge fan of digital audio recorders for many reasons. The main reason is their versatility. They are small, can be used in the field for quick and handy recordings, but can also be used as an external microphone on a computer. Higher end models allow you to connect other types of external microphones through XLR inputs. So, instead of having just a good quality microphone to connect to your computer, you have a multi-purpose microphone that can also be used on its own to record, save, and upload content either through a card reader or a direct USB connection to your computer.
I have a Zoom H-4, which is the previous model to the now-available Zoom H4N. I LOVE this recorder, as it records in very high quality and is very easy to use. I use it for our Cool Teacher Podcast recordings we do in ustream (http://ustream.tv), and the quality is outstanding. We connect it to one of our computers and then make sure the audio input device is selected as H4 for our live broadcasts.
The device has been improved (of course) and is now marketed as the Zoom H4N. I highly recommend purchasing this from BSWUSA (http://bswusa.com), calling their number and asking for the educator price. Right now the device has been discounted to $299, which sounds like a lot, but for what you get, it is a great price. Here is what you get for $299 (and free shipping from BSWUSA):
New lower price on the Zoom H4n! Save 50 bucks! This impressive recorder was already a sweet deal at $349, but it just got sweeter at $299!The Zoom H4n handheld digital SD recorder offers built-in X/Y stereo condenser mics for variable recording at either 90° or 120°, a digitally controlled, high-quality mic preamp, onboard studio effects and the ability to use internal and external mics simultaneously for 4-channel recording. Its large LCD screen, intuitive interface and onboard reference speaker make recording a snap in even the most challenging situations. The H4n even includes two balanced XLR/ 1/4″ combo jacks for recording from your favorite interview or studio mic.
The Zoom H4n records high-resolution audio at 24bit/96kHz on SD/SDHC media of up to 32GB and supports USB 2.0. It also boasts Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) compatible time stamp and track marker functions as well as auto-record and pre-record features so you never miss a moment. It can operate for 10 hours continuously on a single set of AA batteries and comes with a 1 GB SD card, windscreen, mic clip adapter, AC adapter, USB cable, protective case and Cubase LE recording software.
The only thing you don’t get is a tripod, but I’ve found that the little camera tripods work great on a tabletop. You can also purchase a floor boom stand, which would be a great way to be able to move this microphone around.
So, if you are in the market for a good quality microphone to create recordings for any type of broadcast or multimedia presentation, I highly recommend the Zoom H4N. It’s a good buy.